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NBA 2K17 Looks at The Incoming Rookie Class and How They Might Fare

NBA 2K17

NBA 2K17 Looks at The Incoming Rookie Class and How They Might Fare

With the NBA Finals wrapped up, every team in the league is now preparing for the upcoming NBA Draft. Teams know where they stand as the NBA Lottery was held on May 16, and all 60 spots are accounted for. Unless anything changes from now until the actual draft, mock drafts and rankings everywhere can give us an idea of what could happen June 22, 2017.

Using our old friend NBA 2K17 and an accurate 2017 draft class roster created by social media NBA 2K roster, player and shoe creator EmbraceThePace, I decided to see exactly how the top-10 picks would help their projected teams out, based on updated mock draft rankings from DraftExpress.com. I chose EmbraceThePace’s roster file because he based his player ratings on each player’s collegiate stats, strengths and weaknesses. I felt that this would be the best way to evaluate each projected pick.

Let’s take a look (hypothetically of course) at what NBA teams could look like with these players on their rosters. I started a new MyLeague with the “Start Today” option and simulated through to the end of the 2017-18 season. For the sake of the mock draft and to ensure things panned out in regards to the draft, I took control of all 30 NBA teams and chose the respective players projected to go to each team from 1 to 60 using an up-to-date mock draft listing from Draft Express.

It was time consuming, but I felt it necessary for the sake of the end of season stats that I do the draft in its entirety to get an accurate output. Difficulty/Simulation difficulty was on Hall of Fame/100. I left rosters as they were through the playoffs and didn’t have any moves happen in the offseason (this, in reality, would leave rotations and such inaccurate as to what they would be with correct rosters as of next season, but I was really trying to focus on the rookies and their numbers). Lastly, again, we’re focusing here on the Lottery-pick players and their respective teams (from the 1 spot to 10). Let’s get rolling!

And The First Pick in the 2018 NBA Draft Goes To…

Pick #1: Boston Celtics (from Brooklyn Nets)

Markelle Fultz – Point Guard, Washington Huskies

  • Age: 19.0
  • Height: 6’4
  • Weight: 195 lbs.
  • Wingspan: 6’9

Markelle Fultz was virtually the only bright spot that played for the lowly Washington Huskies, who finished with an awful 9-22 record. Having a stellar freshman season for the Huskies, Fultz showed his elite basketball IQ as well as a gift for creating his own shot almost at will. Getting drafted by the Boston Celtics will give them another crafty point guard that can see the court very well. Deadly with the ball in his hands, he is also a great facilitator and distributor. He could also slot in well alongside Isaiah Thomas to create a deadly backcourt duo.

Rookie Year Stats and Accolades (Per Game Average, Points-Assists-Rebounds-Steals-Blocks):

  • 17-5-4.9-2.3-1.3
  • 1st Team All-Rookie

Pick #2: Los Angeles Lakers

Lonzo Ball – Point Guard, UCLA Bruins

  • Age: 19
  • Height: 6’6
  • Weight: 190 lbs.
  • Wingspan: 6’7

Lonzo Ball has been quite the story over the last year. All we’ve seemed to be able to hear about is either his performances or comments from his outspoken father LaVar. On the basketball front, Ball helped reinvigorate the UCLA basketball program and helped them secure a 31-5 record and the best offense in the country. He also helped UCLA reach the Sweet Sixteen in the 2017 March Madness tournament, where they lost to Kentucky. Ball brings a few things to the table that make him very appealing.

At 6-foot-6 and with a 6-foot-9 wingspan, he can create matchup problems for smaller guards similar to how Shaun Livingston creates problems. His transition game is top class as he can force turnovers, grab defensive rebounds to start off a fast break, and has ridiculous speed with the ball in his hands that can break down defenses.

Elite creativity and passing had Ball averaging 7.6 assists per game for UCLA. One thing Ball is known for is his ability to hit 3s from deep, sometimes far beyond NBA range. Going second overall to the Los Angeles Lakers and staying in his hometown, the Lakers could either potentially look to move D’Angelo Russell in favor of the facilitator Ball, or could move Russell to the two-guard spot and let Lonzo run the show.

Rookie Year Stats and Accolades (Per Game Average, Points-Assists-Rebounds-Steals-Blocks):

  • 15.5 – 6.1 – 9.1 – 2.3 – 1.0
  • Rookie of the Year, 1st Team All-Rookie, 2nd Team All-Defense

Pick #3: Philadelphia 76ers (from Sacramento Kings)

Josh Jackson – Small Forward, Kansas Jayhawks

  • Age: 20
  • Height: 6’8
  • Weight: 203 lbs.
  • Wingspan: 6’9

Josh Jackson had a great season with the Kansas Jayhawks and helped them to achieve a 31-5 record and an Elite Eight birth in the NCAA Championship, but saw himself and his team lose to the Oregon Ducks. Physically he is an interesting and intriguing player. Playing on the wing, his 6-foot-8 stature is a good fit. His explosiveness allows him to play above the hoop effortlessly, and he can get to his spots on offense. The last strength, his defense, is what really allows Jackson to shine.

An active two-way player, he’s guarded players from the 1-4 spots his entire basketball career. His lateral quickness catches players off guard, and he thoroughly enjoys and takes pride in shutting players down, throwing his body around and taking charges despite his frail frame. The Philadelphia 76ers are starting to come around and it looks like after years of rebuilding, and the emergence of Joel Embiid (despite injury), they could be a good squad.

The addition of Josh Jackson would give the Sixers a strong defensive presence. Some scouts see the potential of Jackson becoming an elite defensive player, and if his offensive game can improve in line with his already top-notch defensive skills (see: shooting), the Sixers could be drafting a potential superstar.

Rookie Year Stats and Accolades (Per Game Average, Points-Assists-Rebounds-Steals-Blocks)

  • 12.4 – 6.3 – 3.2 – 1.8 – 1.3
  • 1st Team All-Rookie

Pick #4: Phoenix Suns

De’Aaron Fox – Point Guard, Kentucky Wildcats

  • Age: 19
  • Height: 6’4
  • Weight: 171 lbs.
  • Wingspan: 6’6

De’Aaron Fox fought through injuries this season to help the Kentucky Wildcats reach the Elite Eight. After regaining health and improving game by game right up to March Madness, we really got to witness why he is currently considered a top-4 pick in the upcoming draft. Fox possesses some traits that make him a potential nightmare and intriguing player to be in the NBA. At 6-foot-4, he’s got above-average height for a point guard, and with a 6-foot-6 wingspan he’s got length that could get on the nerves of opposing guards. His explosiveness when he jumps is something to see, and his ridiculous speed and quickness is near impossible to keep up with, let alone stay in front of.

This speed translates over to the defensive side of the ball as well, where his lateral quickness enables him to apply pressure on opposing guards quickly and effectively. Fox would be an interesting fit with the Suns. Some similarities between his play style and that of current Suns starting point guard Eric Bledsoe leads some to believe that Fox might not be the best option for the team. With the uptempo attack the Suns utilize, Fox could potentially be a good fit with his elite speed. He would definitely be an asset on the defensive side of the ball.

Rookie Year Stats and Accolades (Per Game Average, Points-Assists-Rebounds-Steals-Blocks):

  • 10.7 – 1.3 – 6.4 – 2.2 – 0
  • 2nd Team All-Rookie

Pick #5: Sacramento Kings (from Philadelphia 76ers)

Jayson Tatum, Small Forward – Duke Blue Devils

  • Age: 19
  • Height: 6’8
  • Weight: 204 lbs.
  • Wingspan: 6’11

Being considered a top-five draft pick usually comes with some lofty expectations, and Jayson Tatum stepped up to the challenge and showed that he was worthy of being there. Finishing with averages of 16.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists (on a per-game basis) he showed that he could contribute in several areas; he also contributed often on the defensive end, showing signs at times that he could become a good two-way player. His real strength was with the ball in his hands in isolation sets. At 6-foot-8, he is an extremely silky athlete that has a large arsenal of moves and footwork that you would expect from a fourth-year NBA player, not a 19-year-old college athlete.

His crossover, jab step, in-and-out dribbles and fadeaway threw defenders off, and his combination of these skills along with his size and quickness created nightmares for slower forwards matched up against him. Tatum does possess the ability to get down low in the paint and post up, which will be necessary for him in the NBA depending on team matchups and personnel. Being drafted by Sacramento, there’s a good possibility that Tatum could be a day-one starter; the Kings currently lack wing players. He could potentially have a similar role to the one Rudy Gay had for the team.

The Kings should also consider Tatum to be one of, if not their main scoring option. He’s showed that he score on the offensive end in various ways, and it’s a style that he’s already comfortable with. With proper development, Jayson Tatum could be a long-term option for Sacramento at the 3 spot.

Rookie Year Stats and Accolades (Per Game Average, Points-Assists-Rebounds-Steals-Blocks):

  • 14.9 – 4.9 – 3.0 – 1.0 – 1.4
  • 2nd Team All-Rookie

Pick #6: Orlando Magic

Jonathan Isaac, Small Forward/Power Forward – Florida State Seminoles

  • Age: 19
  • Height: 6’11
  • Weight: 205 lbs.
  • Wingspan: 7’1

Jonathan Isaac is intriguing to say the very least. There are several NBA teams that are taking a hard look at this prospect and the reasons why are simple. The NBA has and is evolving into a league that places a premium on athleticism, switch-ability and 3-point shooting. Isaac possesses those skills among others. First off, at 6-foot-11 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan and a standing reach of 9 feet, Isaac is both tall and long; for someone with these types of measurements, he is incredibly athletic. This translates on both sides of the ball, but it is potentially more potent on the defensive side where he has the reach and size of a power forward or center, but the athleticism and foot speed to switch and keep up with guards.

This mixture of size and speed is commonly unheard of at the 4 and 5 spots and is especially more impressive and nearly mind-boggling when you consider that Isaac can keep up on a consistent basis with what would appear to be speedier guards.

This was seen several times during the year with Florida State. He’s also no slouch on the boards and when defending the hoop; season averages of 7.8 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and 1.7 steals per 40 minutes are solid proof. A sweet shot on the offensive end and a 34.8 percent three-point percentage is a good indicator that he can contribute in the point column as well. If he continues to improve his already tuned shot, he could be a dangerous stretch 4 in the NBA. Currently slated to go to Orlando in the 6 spot, it’s hard at this point to really determine what kind of impact Isaac can make in his first year.

While he’s considered to be one of the players in this year’s draft with one of the highest ceilings, Orlando may not exactly look to take him as they may not be in the market for a player with his skills. If they do pull the trigger and draft Jonathan Isaac, they could potentially have a superstar in the making.

Rookie Year Stats and Accolades (Per Game Average, Points-Assists-Rebounds-Steals-Blocks):

  • 11.9 – 4.7 – 2.6 – 1.2 – 2.0
  • 2nd Team All-Rookie

Pick #7: Minnesota Timberwolves

Lauri Markkanen, Power Forward – Arizona Wildcats

  • Age: 20
  • Height: 7’0
  • Weight: 225 lbs.
  • Wingspan: Unknown

Playing pro basketball in Finland and contributing at the age of 15 is definitely a sign of the skills that Lauri Markkanen possesses. Passing on NBA eligibility last season and deciding to instead spend a year with the Arizona Wildcats only helped Markkanen’s stock blast through the roof and launched him into the top ten. Markkanen’s stellar talent is outside the norm for a Finnish basketball player, as the country is not known to produce NBA prospects very often.

An ambassador of the game at home in Finland, he’s only improved year over year and has brought his international career three-point average of 41 percent over to the USA. Instantly recognized for being one of the best shooters in this year’s draft regardless of position, Markkanen’s 7-foot, 230-pound frame is a great combination for a stretch four. Shooting at a 42 percent three-point clip with the Wildcats this past season, he showed he could light it up from beyond the arc.

Coming off screens on both the left and right sides and hitting dribble jumpers at a high rate cemented Markkanen as being one of the best shooting big men to come out of college in some time. He’s also displayed an ability to play well off the dribble and be somewhat effective as a slasher based on what the defense shows him. The Timberwolves and coach Tom Thibodeau will look to try and fill in several needs with the seventh pick; Markkanen could be a good player to help with that. Thibodeau has always been known as a defense-first coach, and Markkanen’s size can definitely help with this (even if his defensive bonafides are certainly in question). He can also help the team on the glass, where he averaged 7.2 rebounds per game at Arizona (though, again, rebounding may be a weakness for him in the grand scheme of things).

The biggest place he’ll help out will be shooting beyond the arc, where Minnesota ranked dead last in the league in three-pointers made and attempted. Stretching the floor and giving players like Andrew Wiggins an option to drive and dish to could be quite the dangerous evolution for the young team.

Rookie Year Stats and Accolades (Per Game Average, Points-Assists-Rebounds-Steals-Blocks):

  • 12.6 – 7.3 – 0.5 – 0.4 – 1.8

Pick #8: New York Knicks

Malik Monk, Shooting Guard – Kentucky Wildcats

  • Age: 19
  • Height: 6’4
  • Weight: 197 lbs.
  • Wingspan: 6’3

Malik Monk was a vital part to the Kentucky Wildcats’ run to the Elite Eight and showed he could get hot almost at will. Despite being slightly undersized for a shooting guard, Monk has a ridiculously explosive leaping capability, registering a 42-inch vertical at Kentucky’s preseason combine last year (obviously those numbers sometimes are fudged). Combine his athleticism with a strong first step and above-average quickness, and he could potentially become a deadly shot creator off the dribble despite not being known for doing such while at Kentucky.

With an improvement in consistency through the college season, Monk’s shooting ability is something that has some teams salivating. His ability to get and stay hot beyond the arc can be a frightening sight for teams matched up against him; his overflowing confidence in his shot was also on display many times last season, where he would take and make many contested three-point shots from WELL beyond the arc. Creating for himself off the dribble, in transition or off the ball, Monk’s shooting from in and outside the three-point line is definitely an asset that would help any team.

Potentially going to the New York Knicks at pick eight, Monk could fit right in to the scheme that Phil Jackson and company have been trying to force out good or bad: the triangle offense. Shooters are an essential part in making the triangle work, and Malik Monk has clearly shown that he is exactly that. It could be a match made in heaven for a team that’s been living in the near-depths of basketball hell.

Rookie Year Stats and Accolades (Per Game Average, Points-Assists-Rebounds-Steals-Blocks):

  • 17 – 2.5 – 2.9 – 1.2 – 0.1
  • 2nd Team All-Rookie

Pick #9: Dallas Mavericks

Frank Ntilikina, Point Guard – Strasbourg (International)

  • Age: 18
  • Height: 6’5
  • Weight: 170 lbs.
  • Wingspan: Unknown

Dallas loves to scout international players and are in need of a point guard. Enter Frank Ntilikina. Intriguing to several teams drafting before Dallas (especially the New York Knicks), Ntilikina brings several key assets to the table when looking at his game. He’s got great size for a point guard, standing at 6-foot-5 with long deceptive arms (rumored 7-foot-1 wingspan). He shows a willingness to move the ball. He is a great defensive player that can shut opposing guards down.

Lastly, he has silenced critics that were concerned with his shooting ability, showing he can hit his shots with some consistency, and his pull-up jumper also falls at a consistent rate. Ntilikina can potentially help the Mavericks from the start and give the team a viable point guard option.

Rookie Year Stats and Accolades (Per Game Average, Points-Assists-Rebounds-Steals-Blocks):

  • 7.6 – 1.7 – 5.3 – 1.3 – 0.6

Pick #10: Sacramento Kings (From New Orleans Pelicans)

Dennis Smith Jr., Point Guard – North Carolina State Wolfpack

  • Age: 19
  • Height: 6’3
  • Weight: 195 lbs.
  • Wingspan: 6’3

Another intriguing and capable point guard, Dennis Smith Jr. has made a tremendous comeback after tearing his ACL 15 months ago. Despite an up and down season with NC State, with both extremely good and incredibly bad showings, the one thing that could not be denied is Smith Jr.’s talent. A solid body combined with mind-blowing speed and leaping ability make him a potential option for several teams in the top 10.

He fits the current mold of drive-and-three point guards, with absolute blazing speed, a bevy of dribble moves at his disposal, and a serviceable three-point shot. He can also pass the ball at a better than average rate. Dave Joerger and the Sacramento Kings would improve quite a bit offensively drafting Smith Jr., and there’s good chance for him to be a day-one starter. With good off-ball scorers and a few pick-and-roll big men on the roster, Smith Jr. could be a perfect fit with the Kings.

Rookie Year Stats and Accolades (Per Game Average, Points-Assists-Rebounds-Steals-Blocks):

  • 12.4 – 2.7 – 4.0 – 1.1 – 0.3

The Aftermath of the Draft

It looks like this year’s top draft picks are loaded with a good mix of guard and small forward talent. There are some players that could be stars for years to come. NBA 2K17 has hypothetically helped to give us a good idea of who will have an immediate impact with their prospective team, should the draft go as it is listed currently on mock draft boards. We also had some surprises at the end of the season for awards and stats. After the first season sim, it was Lonzo Ball that received the Rookie of the Year award. Ball had some outstanding first-year numbers, as well as making the first All-Rookie First Team and All-Defense Second Team.

Who do you think will be a stud or dud? Throw out your comments and let us know!

A father, dedicated sports fan and gamer. FIFA, Madden, NHL, NBA 2K are what I play majority of the time. Manchester United runs in my blood. Chicago Bulls and Denver Broncos drape the walls of my man cave. Play hard, or don't play at all.

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